Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Vaccines

I heard another interesting story today that I thought I'd share.  The Forbes write up is here (linked).  The flu shot could reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The most relevant bit:
According to a new study out in the Journal of the American Medical Association, though the flu vaccine had previously been linked to reduced incidence of cardiac events, the evidence has been somewhat murky. The new analysis, however, gathered data from a number of high-quality trials spanning several decades. And the results suggest that, especially for people who are already at higher risk of heart problems, the flu vaccine may well protect against heart attack, stroke, and possibly even death.

The researchers combed studies from the 1940s through the present, selecting only those that were well-designed, randomized, and controlled. Some participants received the flu vaccine, and others placebo. The “end point” for each of the 6735 participants was whether or not they experienced a major adverse cardiovascular event – death from heart disease, hospitalization for heart attack, heart failure, unstable angina, stroke, and urgent coronary revascularization. The risk of experiencing one of these events was compared for those who’d received the flu shot and those who’d gotten placebo.

As it turned out, people who’d had the flu shot were at a much lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and death: about 36% reduced risk.  People who’d recently had a heart attack were 55% less likely to have another cardiac event if they’d gotten the shot.
Naturally a discussion of vaccines brought up the now thoroughly debunked hypothesis that autism and vaccines are linked.  If you weren't already aware, they're really, really not.  National Geographic did a great brief write up related to Jenny McCarthy helping to host the view.  Full article linked here, most relevant bits below:
The original research began to be discredited as early as 1999, when two studies commissioned by the U.K. Department of Health found no evidence that immunizations were associated with autism. In 2001, a panel of 15 experts from the Institute of Medicine, which advises Congress, found no connection between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. In 2004, a comprehensive review by the Institute of Medicine found no causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

But it would take almost another decade for the furor to even begin to die down. A study this year in The Journal of Pediatrics may at last put the final nail in the coffin of the discredited research. In April, researchers published a study that looked at nearly 1,000 children and concluded that exposure to vaccines during the first two years of life was not associated with an increased risk of developing autism.
So, really, seriously if your friends are still spouting the link between vaccines and autism, it's time to put that to rest.  There is no link.  In addition, it looks like getting your flu shot this season could have very positive benefits for your cardiovascular health.

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